Storm Chasers Star Joel Taylor Dies: All About the Discovery Channel Series
On Tuesday, Storm Chasers star Joel Taylor died at 38. The cause of his death remains unclear at this time, but several of his friends shared the sad news on social media, commemorating the late meteorologist.
Taylor’s best friend and former costar Reed Timmer tweeted a touching message alongside several photos of the pair.
“RIP my best friend and storm chasing partner, Joel Taylor,” he wrote. “I am shocked and absolutely devastated by the loss of my incredible, caring friend.”
“We chased so many intense storms, and I wish we could have just one more storm chase,” he added. “I’ll miss you forever, Joel. We lost a legend.”
Taylor, an Elk City, Oklahoma, native, joined the popular Discovery Channel series in 2008 for season 2. Here’s everything you need to know about Storm Chasers, which concluded in 2012 after five seasons.
The documentary-style reality TV series premiered in October 2007. The show chronicled several teams of storm chasers as they attempted to intercept tornadoes, collecting scientific data to improve warning systems and filming up-close footage using special armored vehicles and equipment in order to obtain a more complete picture of tornado structures.
Storm Chasers was largely filmed in the central United States, in an area known as Tornado Alley, where twisters are most frequent and severe. Although the official boundaries of Tornado Alley are not clearly defined, its core extends from northern Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, into Nebraska. Some episodes were also filmed in Dixie Alley, an area in the southeastern United States that is particularly vulnerable to violent tornadoes.
The show was primarily filmed during late spring and early summer, the time of the most frequent tornado activity.
The series followed several different and unrelated teams of storm-chasing scientists, meteorologists and drivers.
Amongst others, the Storm Chasers cast included Dr. Joshua Wurman, a reknowned atmospheric scientist, documentary IMAX filmmaker Sean Casey, and engineer and veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras.
Taylor’s team, from the website TornadoVideos.Net, consisted of meteorologist Reed Timmer and Chris Chittick, a photographer/probe technician. Their team was known as “Team Dominator,” referring to the name of their armored chase vehicle, the SRV Dominator, driven by Taylor.
“We are so saddened to hear about Joel’s passing. We will always remember him fondly as an incredible meteorologist and driver of ‘The Dominator,’ ” a representative for the Discovery Channel told PEOPLE in a statement on behalf of the network. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
On Wednesday, Timmer, now a meteorologist for AccuWeather, shared footage from one of Taylor’s tornado intercepts in the Texas Panhandle when he was just 21.
“[He had] incredible natural instinct chasing tornadoes and reading the sky,” said Timmer of Taylor. “No one better at dominating back roads behind the wheel.”
Cancelation & specials
Storm Chasers was canceled after five seasons in January 2012. (Timmer and others from the cast continued a web series, Tornado Chasers, funded by Kickstarter campaigns.)
In June 2013, the Discovery Channel aired a Storm Chasers special, Mile Wide Tornado: Oklahoma Disaster, which covered the deadly tornado that hit El Reno, Oklahoma, in May of that year.
The special covered the death of Storm Chasers alum Tim Samaras, his son Paul and fellow storm chaser Carl Young, who lost their lives chasing the El Reno tornado. Overall, the tornado was responsible for eight fatalities and over 150 injuries.